In this issue: Circle of calm – What’s age appropriate anyway? – Comfort zone – Moving target – Inner parent – Well-travelled road – Create your own writing retreat – Life stories – Side by side – Presence of mind

It might be a primary-school friend who can put a name to the face of every student in an end-of-year class photo, a younger sibling who recalls every step of a family holiday 15 years ago, a colleague who happily recounts the riotous events of a work party most would prefer to forget. Elephant memory. That ability to recall in detail all manner of events, actions and people – no matter how fleeting or insignificant they might have seemed to others at the time. It’s impressive (if sometimes irksome).

For those whose memory feels more goldfish, fear not. It’s no reflection on intelligence. The brain is complicated and there are different types of memory. A longer life also means there’s more to recall. Pinpointing the name of one person among hundreds encountered over the years might be like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.

But memory is important. Lessons learned from past mistakes, for example, affect decisions in the present and influence plans for the future. A sense of fulfilment gained from achieving personal goals boosts self-esteem and increases confidence to accept fresh challenges. This applies as much, if not more, in relationships with friends and family as it does the workplace.

Central to this is making the time to notice what’s going on in the here and now, to stop – or, at least, slow down – and pay attention to the details, be that at work, at home, at play, in transit. On that commute, for example, or, better still, a journey to a holiday destination, set aside the laptop or smartphone. Observe the other passengers, take note of what’s going on outside the window, listen for the turning of pages, the excited chatter of children. Not all the details will be favourable (this is real life), but they’re still part of the picture and, potentially, part of the memory. At some point the memory may still fade which is, perhaps, all the more reason to slow down, look up and be fully present now.

Cover Illustration: Katrice Salisbury